Do you think it's appropraite to ask someone how much money they make?

I recently got offered my first real job. Initially I didn’t plan on telling people how much money I would be making - I really didn’t think it’s was anyone else’s business. Once people found out they were all asking how much I was making. Parents (should be expected) but aunts, uncles, friends, etc. were all asking. I personally wouldn’t dare ask someone how much money they were making. To me it’s as private as someone’s penis size. It’s simply none of my business. However, for fear of coming off the wrong way, I just told them.

So what do you guys think? Do you think it’s appropriate to ask how much money someone makes?

No way. I’d be comfortable asking someone close to me if they made more than their last job (in a new job) or if they’re happy with the salary they’re getting, but the exact figure? No way. I don’t ask and don’t know how much my folks make, my best friends, my aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.

I remember one time my awkward cousin from Colorado was visiting when we were kids. He asked one of the adults how much they made and everyone’s jaw dropped. We still talk about that today :slight_smile:

Do all these people who asked you know what each other makes? Have you ever heard them discussing the matter before? Maybe your family has a different standard. Generally, though, I find it in very poor form.

Several members of my wife’s family are always asking me how much I made in the year (I am an emergency worker and my yearly income varies by a couple orders of magnitude from year to year). I find that extremely rude and always make up some outrageous sum (which leaves them wondering but they are not fresh enough to challenge me on it)

No, it’s not usually appropriate. Tell them “I’m making a decent salary” and leave it at that.

I don’t even ask my kids what they make.

Nobody I know talks about money except in vague terms, like “This job pays better than the last one”, or “I’m not making as much as before but the bennies are good.”

I was raised with the conviction that salary is something one never, ever discusses with anyone under any circumstances. I never knew how much my father made. I don’t even know how much my SO makes, and we’ve been together for more than eight years; I would never dream of asking him, and he’s never asked me.

I realize some people wouldn’t consider it something to get uptight over, but to my way of thinking, there’s simply no reason anybody needs to know that, and discussing it can’t lead to any good.

:frowning: Is that why I never get any second dates?

The answer to "how much do you make is “Enough to get by.” Unless you’re not making enough to get by, and then the answer is a wry or rueful “Not enough to get by.”

My wife knows and that is about it. Other people have sense enough not to ask. However, recruiters call fairly often and they usually want to know a little about it. The only people that I actually know that I will talk about it are in the same field and they need the info for their own job search or something. Even then, I almost always talk ranges.

I’ve never quite understood the aversion to talking about money. If you and your coworkers got together and discussed how much everyone is getting paid, you would be much better off. The only one who benefits from this secrecy is the employer.

Heh. My salary is a matter of public record, since I work for the gummint. Fortunately it’s not readily availabe on the internet (yet).

I don’t know if this is true or not. I know I could use this information to lobby for more money, but I could also just use this information to torment myself. If Susan earns $1.50 more an hour than I do there may be a reason that I am not aware of-more education, more experience in the field we are working in, etc. I wouldn’t be able to get that salary without the same qualifications, but I also wouldn’t know what those exact qualifications were so I would be miserable at something I used to enjoy. Besides, when I start a job I negotiate a salary that will make me happy no matter what anyone else is earning. That is my responsibility regardless of anyone else’s salary.

But like penis size, it’s fun to let the other guy know when yours is bigger :smiley:
But no, it’s generally not appropriate to ask. In fact, my company has a strict policy against it. Some of the younger people get all obsessed about it at work. I just tell them that all they need to know is as their director I make a lot more than they do.

How would the employees be better off? All that would happen is that some people would get big heads and others would get resentful. And I would simply tell them “you make what we think you’re worth”. “Steve makes more than me” is not a compelling argument to give you a raise.

I’m with Fiveyearlurker, I don’t really understand the sensitivity regarding money. I really don’t care. If people ask me, I’ll tell them. It’s not a big deal to me. But I generally don’t ask other people because it’s one of those “taboos”, so I try not to annoy people. But when I am in the job market, I might ask a couple of friends to make sure that I’m not getting shafted.

(For the record, I’ll tell people my penis size too. So take that for what it’s worth.)

Believe it or not, I work for the consulting arm of a mega-corp and part of my duties involve working on the payroll system. While I don’t intentionally just browse around, I can’t help but stumble across coworker data and I need to use them for test cases sometimes as well.

Most of my coworkers have access to the same data I do. We never talk about it directly and I know for a fact that a few of us, including me, are getting screwed at the moment. So much for open information. It doesn’t change the subject at hand much especially if you try to be professional about it.

Another thing is they might actually get disappointed when they find out what I make. The office head at my first job accidently left the salary and bonus sheet on his desk and we got ahold of it. You’re less inclined to put in extra time if you see your future does not involve making large amounts of cash.

Tell us the first digit of each and let us guess which goes with which. It will be fun.

I do not ask as it is considered impolite, however I do not believe it is. I have never had this hang-up. In a way it is humorous, the unwillingness of employees to not talk about their salaries is a large boon to employers.

If we were not conditioned so well not to ask, we would have a better feel for how others in our field or company are compensated. It would be easier to get fair wages and collectively bargain.

I am not pro-union, nor have I have been in a union. I just observe that even union members are still reticent to talk about salaries. I find this amusing.


Well, I have to be honest and say that I can’t see why it wouldn’t be a good idea to know your SO’s salary, esPECially if y’all are living together.

Seconded. I know my roomie’s salary and we’re just friends. She knows mine as well, of course. That way we both know that the other can do fun stuff like pay bills and rent.